EPISODE 29: Our Struggle with Pornography Can Be a Lot Like Struggling with a Bear

Mar 29, 2020


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Episode 29

You are listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast, where we break through barriers holding you back from becoming who you wanna be, whether you're struggling with pornography, overeating, social media addiction, or just wanna get better at succeeding at life. This podcast is for you. Now, your host, Zach Spafford.

Hey everybody, and welcome to another beautiful Mastery Monday. I'm your host. Zach Spafford, this has been quite a week. I have literally spent the entire week in my house. I'm sure most of you have. This has been one of those weeks where I think a lot of people are beginning to lose their minds. Last week it was, a break from the norm, but it also felt like.

Yeah, maybe we know what to do and this will all blow over and then we'll get back to normal soon. This week, almost certainly for most of us, felt really long. I think a lot of people are feeling trapped. They're feeling cooped up, they're feeling stuck, and this is driving a lot of behavior that we have not used to buffer in a long time.

So for many people who are. Dealing with pornography use, or they're dealing with overeating challenges or excessive social media use. This is the week that a lot of that behavior is coming back and it is really creating some additional excessive stress on people's lives. And what I'm talking about here is that overwhelm and that frustration and that shame that comes when we do something that we have said, I'm not gonna do this anymore.

Our brains are interesting machines, right? They do a couple of things really, really well, and then they miss a couple of other really important things if we don't manage them. So to that end, as we think about this coming week and how a lot of us are gonna spend a lot of time at home, Let's talk about a couple of things that your brain is doing well and understand why it's doing what it's doing.

And then let's talk about a couple of things that you can do to put yourself in the best position so that at the end of this time that we're all stuck at home and you know when everything opens back up, you can come through it feeling as though you have. Accomplished a great deal because I think that every single one of us wants to be the best version of ourselves, regardless of whether the sky is falling or not.

So let's talk about the first thing that our brain does really, really well, our brain. sees danger in bad feelings, so it observes our moods, it observes our feelings, and it sees danger in them. But something that is not a strength of our brain is distinguishing between the types of bad feelings. So I grew up in Alaska.

I lived in Alaska for about four years as I was a kid, and one of the things that was a constant, Issue whenever we would go camping, it was, I was a boy scout and we loved to go camping was being chased by a bear and we would always joke, make sure that you bring a slower scout with you wherever you go.

And I , I don't know if that was real advice or if it was simply just a joke. I always tried to observe it by being one of the fastest scouts available. But that aside, being chased by a bear, it feels really bad. And being bored also feels bad. Now, you and I both know that only one of those is really gonna kill you, but your brain can't tell the difference.

So what it does is it throws something out there to keep you from feeling bad. So let's talk about bears, right? Bears are fun. If you've never read the book Alaskan Bear Tales, I highly recommend it. It's a fun read. But in the case of a bear, you're gonna, you're gonna have a basically three essential.

Responses to a bear, you are either going to lay down and play dead. That people have been known to do that. And some of you out there saying nobody lays down and plays dead. Read the book. You'll find at least one person who's laid down and played dead when a bear was attacking them. That's a pretty standard response.

Sometimes people survive, sometimes they don't. The next. Possible option is to just run away screaming at the top of your lungs. Get away from that. Bear as fast as you can at, with whatever means you have. Now, to be honest with you, that's not really a great option because bears can run faster than you, and when you run, their instinct is to chase you.

So keeping that in mind, unless you have a really short track to a really secure place. You probably shouldn't run from a bear. And then the third thing that you can do with a bear, and this is the actual advice that every single bear expert out there will give you is to stand up, face the bear, make yourself as big as you possibly can, and scream at the bear and make yourself look tough and strong and deal with that bear head on.

Now, this is a really interesting bit of advice because. If you look at it from a, the perspective of someone who's never dealt with a bear face-to-face, you might think that's gotta be obviously the worst possible idea, but for some reason it seems to work and bears generally tend to go away if that's the behavior you exhibit.

Now let's take this same exact advice and apply it to being bored. Because being bored we know for a fact is not going to kill you. And so what are the three things that you can do when you're bored? Well, you can start with laying down and playing dead. So as you have spent time, Inside with your whole family.

And by the way, I have eight kids, so there are 10 of us in this house, and I can guarantee you that if I spent my entire day laying down because I was bored and just played dead, the entire world would come crashing down on me. No question. So as far as that's concerned, when you look at this opportunity that we have of being inside with our family all the time, playing dead is probably not a very good idea.

It might be, but it might not be. And when I look at this particular option, I look at it in terms of. , this is depression. This is what me being depressed is going to look like. So let's take the next option you can take off running. And this is essentially a bid for adrenaline.

This is where you're finding some dopamine. You're looking for the thing that feels like it is the most good. And this is really interesting because when you look at this in in contrast with the bear advice that we're talking about, That again, it seems like, oh yeah, of course you should run.

You should get away from that bear. It's dangerous. So, , we look at this same advice when it comes to being bored, bad feelings again. And we think, oh yeah, so should I look for adrenaline? Should I look for a dopamine hitch? Should I look for the thing that seems like it's the best option? Which again, is like food or pornography or excessive social media use, or whatever your buffer is.

that's what you're building into that response. You're saying this is obviously the best thing because it feels good in the moment and it's possible that I can get away from this feeling of being bored, just like it's possible that I can get away from being eaten by a bear.

But here again is the problem with. Though that same response, right? The reality is, is that you may stop being bored for a quick minute, and this goes for lonely or sad or whatever bad feeling it is that you're dealing with, but then that comes back and you probably feel worse because you've looked at porn or you've overeaten, or you've wasted so much time on social media or video games or whatever it is.

The thing is that you used to buffer away your time, that may not be the best option. Although, and here's the thing, right? I'm not gonna say that, having some time to watch Netflix or play video games is a bad idea. But the question comes into play is what you're doing trying to outrun a bad feeling?

Or is what you're doing choosing to entertain yourself? And that's a fine line sometimes, but the reality here is that you can plan in. Entertainment and outrunning a bad feeling is just gonna come up and you're gonna react to it. So as you go through this week, be aware of that and look carefully and see, is this what I'm doing?

Am I trying to outrun a bad feeling or am I choosing to entertain myself because well, Frankly, I'm stuck inside all day. Obviously you don't have to stay inside, but you know what I mean, you're not able to do a lot of the normal things that you do like going to the gym, which is what a lot of people do as a stress reliever.

So that brings us to the third piece of advice, which is. Standing up, facing it head on and choosing to feel that feeling. Whether it is, when you're dealing with a bear, it's, you're dealing with fear, usually you're, your whole body is just racked with fear and facing that fear head on again, which is, by the way, the most effective way of dealing with a bear attack.

And it's also the most effective way of dealing with your feelings is facing them head on and seeing, okay, is this something that's going to kill me? If the answer to that is no. Which it is in the case of boredom or sadness or loneliness. Then feeling that feeling for, five minutes or whatever it takes to fully feel that feeling all the way through is going to be a much more effective way of dealing with that feeling Then.

Turning tail and running or avoiding it. Now, here's the really interesting thing about this, right? If you faced a bear if a literal actual bear was bearing down on you in some way, and you faced that bear and you chose any of those three options, the truth is that no one would judge you. No one would say you're clearly a bad person because you didn't do the absolute right thing.

Because the reality is that bears are freaking scary and they will eat your face. And I want you to bring that same attitude to what you choose to do when you're feeling sad or bored or lonely, or whatever bad feeling it is that you're dealing with during this time. I don't want you to judge yourself for what you chose to do, because the reality here is that if you pile shame on top of your choice, You're going to feel even worse, and that would be what I would call tripling down on feeling bad, right?

If you take a bad feeling and you try to avoid it, and then you pile shame on top of that, you've tripled that bad feeling instead of just dealing with it firsthand. Or if you chose a bad choice, like using pornography and you doubled down on it, putting shame on top of that. That's not gonna help you out.

It's not gonna bring you up. It's not gonna move you forward. What you do want to do is face that issue, head on, look at it and say, okay, yeah, maybe I did overeat, or maybe I did use pornography, or maybe I did play video games for four straight hours, and now my wife is really upset at me. I'm gonna face that head on.

I'm gonna deal with it in the most grown up way, accepting what I chose to do as my own decision. And now I'm gonna move forward and I'm gonna work to create better outcomes going forward. Now that's a really good place to start your week every single week. This week for church, we had a really good Sunday church last week for church.

It ended in screaming and everyone was upset. So what I'm saying here is if I had taken the feelings from last week and put shame on top of the upsetness that happened, then the rest of this week. Could have been much worse than it was as it was we. Faced that issue. We dealt with the screaming, we dealt with the upsetness, and then we moved forward with love as best we could.

So when it comes to how can I create my week, I've got a couple of tips for you. I've got a couple of ideas that might help make this week the best week that you've had it in quarantine, as it were. So the first thing that you want to do, and I think this is obvious, but sometimes we forget to do it, is how do you figure out how do you want to behave ahead of time?

And what I mean by that is, Choose your choices now and plan your events ahead of time. And when you plan your head events ahead of time, you can even plan some time to feel bad. This is a great idea. A lot of my clients use this to make sure that they put bad feelings in a box, that they can deal with them directly.

So when you think, okay I'm not feeling good, but right now, I can't deal with that. I can plan a specific time during that week that I can deal with that feeling or later that day so that you don't. Forget to deal with it, but that you do also make sure that you are achieving what you need to achieve in the moment that you need to achieve it.

And this is going for a lot of people who are trying to, create new things in this time of uncertainty and they're feeling like, oh, is this gonna work? Am I gonna achieve what I need to achieve? Am I gonna be able to create that podcast? Am I gonna be able to. Start that new business. Am I gonna be able to create this new protocol for my eating or for my pornography use, or whatever it is.

And you're dealing with all of those feelings. Well, sometimes you need to feel bad. During that process. And if you feel like, no, I can't feel bad at this moment, you can take some time and put it to a later time and say, I'm gonna, I'm going to deal with that bad feeling at that time. I'm gonna wor worry about that worry later, but I will worry about it.

And that way you can sometimes push through what's going on in your day-to-day so that you can actually create and accomplish the things that you're trying to create and accomplish. The next thing that I would suggest, and this is important because. I think that we're all gonna deal with this over the next few months in terms of there is not enough entertainment in your house to keep you from being bored.

And we're actually bad at being bored. Our kids are bad at being bored. I mean, if your kids have ever come to you and they say, Mom, dad, I'm bored. And you're like, oh, what can I do for you? My favorite thing is when my kids are bored and I'm like, that's perfect. Be bored. So what I want you to recognize is that you probably need to build in some time to feel bored and understand that feeling bored and sad and lonely and unhappy for the.

Foreseeable future is going to be a significant part of your life and fully embrace it and just say, yeah, I feel bored and I'm gonna feel bored. And that's okay. And then here's the one thing that I think that we have all got an opportunity for here. Actually, there's two more things, right? The first thing is this is an.

Awesome time to create, all that running around that you used to do, all that driving that you used to take your kids to, all those meetings that you had to go to, all that travel that you had to do when you were, able to travel for business or whatever. All of that time is now given back to you.

So if you have been thinking about creating something, if you've been thinking about. Designing something. If you've been thinking about building something, now's the time to do it. Don't wait. Don't think, oh, well, I'll do it later. Or, oh, I just don't feel like it right now. Do it now. This is it. This is your moment.

This is the time to get out and make something that you think is going to be amazing because it is gonna be amazing. only if you make it happen. So if you want that, I actually have on my website. If you go to zak, there's a button at the top. It's get it done, click on that. You can download a Get It Done project packet.

It will lead you through the process of creating an executing on a very important goal. Go ahead. It's free. I put it out there Wednesday, I think for people so that they could try it out, figure out something to do this week. Go ahead, make it your own. If you have questions about it, set up a free mini session.

I'll gladly walk you through it. And then finally, and this one has been, I think one of the most important things that's happened out of all of this. I was having a meeting with the state young men's presidency. I'm in the state, young men's presidency in my stake here. And we were having a meeting and we were talking about all the things that were going on.

And, somebody came was asking, okay, well, what's going on in your house? Is everything going the way that you would hope it would go. And my thought was, and my, and this is what was my response as well, was this is amazing. This is awesome. I get to keep my kids around more often and engage with them more often.

And this is an awesome opportunity for us to play games and to go for walks and, and en and engage in that family life that we weren't able to engage in because we were. Using a lot of our time to do things outside of the house, which is not a bad thing, but what I want to say is this is a great opportunity to reengage with your family, reengage with your kids, build in some time to play with them, build in some time to do things with them that you haven't done with them in years.

Feel free to hate 'em later, , because you might, get more frustrated with them as time goes on and as we continue to do this, but. In the short term, in the right now, go in and engage with them and don't expect them to want to engage with you. That's a really important thing because they're used to their routines, but be inviting, be that kind of person that you would want to be hanging around with and play the games that you would want to play and that they would want to play so that you can encourage them to be a part of your life in a way that they probably haven't been in a couple of years.

and if you're older and you don't have kids at home like, like I do and like some of my listeners do, then this might be the time to reengage with your spouse and, play those games and make those puzzles happen, and do all the wonderful things that you used to do when you recording each other.

This is a great time to reengage with each other and listen, the reality here is that you're gonna be bored and you're gonna be frustrated, and you're gonna. Probably face a lot of feelings that you haven't faced for a long time. Feel free to set up a session with me. I would love to help you through that process and help you weed out what's really happening here, and maybe even find some thoughts that serve you better than the ones that you're using right now.

Listen guys, this is a great Monday. This is an awesome week. We're gonna have some cool stuff happen this coming week. I personally am looking forward to conference where, the prophet's gonna speak and he's going to provide with, provide us with some really cool answers. I hope you are too.

I also recognize that this is just another bump in the road of reality and. If you and I can create something amazing out of this, that creative destruction that occurs on a regular basis is what's happening right now. And this is a moment to create and shine and make something amazing so that the world has something better.

All right. , thanks for listening. I always appreciate your comments. I appreciate your feedback. In fact, I have a giveaway. It's a free giveaway this week only for anybody who goes on and writes me a review. If you write me a review. And you send me an [email protected]. Just I'm not gonna check the reviews.

Just go ahead, write a review on whatever podcast player you use, and then send me an [email protected] and say, Hey, I wrote you a review. I am going to pick somebody to send something to this week. So if you have a shortage of toilet paper in your life, You are going to want this. And last thing before I let you go, I'm going to do an open coaching call every week for the next four weeks on Wednesday night at eight o'clock central time.

So if you are struggling with what's going on in the li in your life this week, I'm going to answer your questions. If you want to, just type in questions, I'm happy to answer those directly or you can get on and you can get free coaching from me. . So if you're missing that 12 step group that you used to go to before the world ended, or if you are simply looking for a new opportunity to get past what you're doing in your life or become just a better person, I wanna encourage you to go to my website,, sign up for the free webinar, and join me on Wednesday night.

And get some free coaching and answers to any of the questions that you have. All right. Thanks again for listening and we'll talk to you next week. Hey, thanks for listening to the Self-Mastery Podcast. Every day I get requests from people who are looking to change something in their life. If that is you, if you need help overcoming your addictive behavior like pornography use, sign up for a free mini-session at That's I'll put a link in show notes for you to follow. Also, it would mean the world to me if you were to leave a review for us. Wherever you get your podcast, it'll go a long way to helping others find us. Thanks again.

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